Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller’s proposal to take approximately 17 acres of Webster Woods from Boston College cleared an essential step Tuesday night after the city’s Community Preservation Committee backed spending $15.7 million on the request.
The Community Preservation Committee approved the proposal by a vote of 7 to 1, according to Ellen Ishkanian, a city spokeswoman. The sole “no” vote was from member Robert Maloney, who opposed it due to access issues, Ishkanian said.
Boston College has opposed the proposed eminent domain taking of the parcel, which connects to the largest stretch of public open space in Newton — roughly 160 acres of land along Hammond Pond Parkway in Chestnut Hill.
Fuller has put a priority on acquiring the woodland, focusing on the effort since she took office in January 2018.
In September, she announced the move to take the property through eminent domain from Boston College after talks between the sides failed to reach an agreement.
Boston College has not announced plans for the Webster Woods land, which is less than 2 miles from its main campus. When it bought the property from Congregation Mishkan Tefila in 2016, the college paid $20 million for 25 acres of land, including Webster Woods.
An existing building and parking lots on about 8 acres owned by the college is not part of the proposed taking.
Tuesday’s vote by the Community Preservation Committee supports funding the acquisition through the board’s open space funding reserve. Fuller’s proposal calls for a significant portion of the purchase to be bonded over a 30-year period, so the city could fund other community preservation efforts.
That money is raised from taxes, and may only be used for land or historic preservation, outdoor recreation facilities, and affordable housing.
The Newton City Council must also approve the proposed taking — a vote is scheduled for Nov. 25. If the council approves the taking, it will be filed with the Middlesex Registry of Deeds. Fuller has said litigation over the taking could take years, and could cost an estimated $740,000.
During a Nov. 6 public hearing conducted by the Community Preservation Committee, Ward 7 Councilor Lisle Baker said the proposed taking is “the only way now available to ensure the preservation, conservation, and recreational character of this land.”
Boston University journalist Anju Miura contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.